ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — From Massachusetts to Maryland, Providence, R.I., to Peru, Albany, N.Y., to Anderson, S.C., Provincial guardians traveled here last week for their annual meeting.
More than 50 attendees listened to Provincial updates and discussed keeping faithful to the Province mission, along with the challenges and joys of guardian ministry. The Nov. 16 to 19 event, held near St. Anthony Friary, also included leadership and conflict resolution sessions given by management consultants.
After a welcome and opening prayer by Thomas Conway, OFM, a member of the Provincial Council, the guardians’ meeting began with a state of the Province presentation by Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM. John provided updates on a variety of topics, including a review of the Province’s economy, his recent meetings with several bishops, the HNP capital campaign, possible collaboration with provinces of the English-speaking Conference and the Order’s General Chapter last spring. He also discussed the positive feedback he has heard on the HNP Strategic Plan.
“Our challenge is to find the best way to use our resources to serve the people of God and the Church,” John said, referencing requests that the Province expand, that friars move into new ministries and the decline in HNP membership.
John recommended to the friars that they reflect on several questions:
· Is how we live and minister the status quo or something different?
· How do we live simply in a way that is practical?
· Are we keeping in mind the Province’s strategic plan?
· Are we men of prayer or simply men who say prayers?
· Are we more than simply good guys in ministry?
· Is it known to the world that we are making a difference?
Strategic Planning and Collaborative Thinking
In this fifth guardians’ meeting of the current Provincial Administration, participants included guardians from nearly 40 friaries, as well as members of the Provincial Council; directors of communications, finance, vocation, JPIC and St. Anthony’s Guild; and Provincial resource consultant J. Patrick Kelly, OFM.
Presentations emphasized the need by guardians to act consistently and proactively with the HNP Strategic Plan.
· The Province’s Strategic Plan update by Francis Gunn, OFM, HNP coordinator of strategic planning
· Ministerial engagement and disengagement policies by F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, council member
· Preparing for leadership transitions by Edward Coughlin
· Vocation promotion and trends by Brian Smail, OFM, director of vocations
· Finance policies, including an update on the Province’s “Making Sense” document, by Dennis Wilson, OFM,
· Financial criteria for review when considering disengagement of HNP ministries by Thomas Conway, who
developed five criteria with the Provincial Council
· Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation news by Russell Testa, director of the HNP JPIC Office
The speakers encouraged guardians to be mindful of the needs and goals of friars, partners-in-ministry, and the Province when making decisions.
Francis Gunn described ways that the HNP Strategic Plan has “come to life” since its 2008 approval. He detailed events and initiatives that underscore objectives of the plan, including the Hispanic Ministry Committee’s recent “Encuentro Franciscano,” the Evangelization Directorate’s upcoming preaching workshop, the HNP personnel database and a JPIC resource being developed to assess the state of JPIC programs in local ministries.
The Province’s Leadership Development Committee (LDC), following up on its 2008 work with a management consultant to identify leadership roles pertinent to HNP ministries and fraternal life, gave one of the more hands-on workshops. HNP guardians had participated last year in a self-assessment that found areas where they could further their leadership skills, according to Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM.
This year, the LDC engaged the Hay Group, an international management consulting firm, to provide a day-long retreat on leadership development. Hay representatives led friars through a leadership effectiveness model and the types of leadership styles necessary for a successful organizational climate. Dominic said, “An especially interesting exercise used Scriptures to illustrate leadership styles in action.”
Guardians also discussed how to manage conflict and completed a self-assessment tool to define their conflict resolution styles. They discussed conflict situations and creative strategies for resolution.
“The retreat day involved a lot of work,” Dominic said, “but the guardians were all highly engaged and found the experience very profitable for their life and ministry.”
Several friars commented on the value of the guardians’ meeting, which was organized by Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM, and moderated by Kevin Mullen, OFM, of the Provincial Council.
Daniel McLellan, OFM, of Durham, N.C., who has been guardian of three friaries over 16 years, found the discussion about mission and vocations worthwhile. “As men and as friars, being invested in a ‘work’ is central to our identity, and wanting others to follow in our footsteps is evidence of our conviction that what we do and who we are are necessary and important.
“The hands-on session with the folks from the Hay Group added a poignancy to our concern for leadership training,” Daniel said. “Talking about leadership style as something that is determined by the situation, rather than something that adheres to one’s personality, raises the bar in our efforts to form strong leadership. Not only do leaders need specific skill sets, they also need the capability to “read” situations and appropriately adapt themselves to addressing that situation.”
Patrick Tuttle, OFM, of Greenville, S.C., said he enjoyed the conflict resolution demonstrations and appreciated finding options to standard responses. He also enjoyed the fraternity. “I was glad to see my brothers who have been assigned a similar role, but was fascinated by the differences in the communities we serve. Some friars were challenged to serve aging brothers, others to faculties, still others to students.”
Many out-of-towners visited with friary residents. St. Anthony guardian James Toal, OFM, visited with guests thoughout the meeting. Artist Miguel Loredo, OFM, and college chaplain Mario Di Lella, OFM, who moved to St. Petersburg within the last few years, mingled with the visitors as did vicar and guestmaster John Capozzi, OFM, and former HNP communications director Roy Gasnick, OFM.
“It was great to see the men who have been our Province leaders for so many years and to try to assure them we are taking up where we can from the good they have done,” said Patrick, a guardian for two years.
Shown in photo above are Dominic and Brian.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province. She reminds friars that “Making Sense” and other Provincial documents are available in the HNP Extranet for their use.